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Ted Smith
Human Resources A to Z
Ted Smith, author
Aimed at ambitious, mid-level HR & OD people, it’s full of practical tips and tricks to move from being good to great, with insights into the ways that you can influence others, get change accepted, and make things happen. A to Z style, so that you can dip in and out, or go straight to an issue.
Smith (The Train Blog) puts his years of experience in human resources to good use in this guide to common challenges professionals may face. After a brief introduction and description of his impressive career, Smith dives into advice about everything from ADHD to zombies (unmotivated workers, not flesh-eating ghouls) in alphabetically ordered sections named for their subjects. He draws upon his own career, using anecdotes to illuminate a variety of potential career situations, all united by his core theme of dignity in the workplace. Whether the problem is an employee’s lateness (which may be resolved with a “gentle private chat”) or a cancer diagnosis (which makes sickness absence rules “irrelevant”), preserving the worker’s dignity and helping them thrive is Smith’s key recommendation.

This manual should not be mistaken for professional legal or medical advice, but Smith’s guidance is thoughtful and can be modified to fit varied circumstances. His approach is humble: when he is not an expert about a topic under discussion, Smith seeks advice from and gives credit to others, which is particularly helpful in his sections about autism, blindness, and working across cultures (for example, in Japan or the U.S). Readers will be able to imagine Smith as an older mentor joining them for coffee and conversation as they work through some knotty problem that has arisen at work.

Though the more granular advice is most useful for those who share his United Kingdom context, HR professionals anywhere can learn from Smith’s good sense. This wise and good-natured survey of common human resource concerns and challenges would make a meaningful and useful gift for someone starting out in the profession.

Takeaway: Human resources professionals, especially in the U.K., will find this wise, good-natured compendium a valuable guide.

Great for fans of: Jeffrey Liker’s The Toyota Way, Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell’s The Essential HR Handbook.

Production grades
Cover: C
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B